Category Archives: school

Good Class, Mediocre Class, Best Husband Evar

Advanced class was pretty good this morning, once we all thawed. I remembered to eat and to take my Adderall, so it was easier to focus when Ms. T was giving the combinations.

Cirque classes were meh — I burned the palm of my hand the other day while retrieving a pizza from the oven and the blister tore and peeled off, so we struggled to find a way to compensate for that. Juggling wasn’t too bad, but Vertical Variety was a challenge. I wore Denis’ work gloves, which kept the wound from getting any worse, but made doing things awkward. I’m not normally prone to any degree of fear on aerial apparatus, but kept feeling alarmed because I couldn’t grip the dance pole. Weird.

My blood sugar tanked by the end of the second class. When I got home, I tried to make a sandwich, burned it, and completely flipped out. Afterwards, Denis made me feel better. I can’t express how much that means to me. I have come to understand the value of comfort; the importance of a warm pair of arms to hold you together when you feel like you’re flying apart from the inside of.

I’ve decided to talk to my GP about possible ways of dealing with my hormonal fluctuations, which are exacerbating my bipolar symptoms. That’s one thing I can do without disastrous side-effects, and hormonal therapy did help in the past.

I may see if I can switch to a controlled-release ADHD medication for a bit, because I’m having trouble remembering to take my pills.

In other news, I heard back on my Columbia application today. Not good news, but it’s not the end of the world (yes, to some extent, this is me keeping a stiff upper lip). I need to finish my other applications; if I don’t get accepted into a program, though, I have other irons in the fire.

Regardless, a rejection letter from any other program wouldn’t sting as much: in short, I’ve never received one before. The first is the hardest.

So that’s that. I’m going to go cook myself in the tub now.



Just finally submitted my application to Columbia College of Chicago’s Dance-Movement Therapy program.

Now I can breathe.

…Or, well, now I can spend the next several weeks holding my breath.

One or the other.

Danseur Ignoble: On to Plan C

So we had a great time recording my audition piece today …

Except for the part wherein I apparently somehow failed to actually hit the “record” button during the actual run.

Fortunately, I have at least some video to work with — I recorded is working out the choreography, which is actually kind of hilarious. There are some nice arabesques in there.

At the end of the day, I’m still going to have to re-record this, somehow. I have no idea how, as I can’t afford to rent the studio again right now (even though it’s fairly affordable). I’ll figure something out, though.

So that’s it for today.

Someday I’ll have an actual finished video.

Monday Class: In Developpe-ment?

Okay, that was bad, I admit it. Couldn’t think of anything else.

I felt a bit stiff this morning. I may have overdone it yesterday with caffeine, rum, and sugar, while under-doing it with, like, actual food and calories, heh. Today, I made roasted chicken legs* and vegetables for dinner, so that’s a step in the right direction.

*…As I said to my friend Robert, “…Cut from the bodies of bros who skipped leg day. THIS IS WHY YOU NEVER SKIP LEG DAY.”

Fortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, in ballet, every day is leg day.

On the other hand, The Lady of the Camélias was stunning. Not only very fine dancing, but very fine acting, particularly by Svetlana Zakharova, who absolutely embodied the principal female role, Marguerite. Anna Tikhomirova brought humor and aching pathos to Marguerite’s mirror image, the legendary Manon Lescaut, who appears both in the ballet-within-the-ballet and also in Marguerite’s inner visions.

Andrei Merkuriev portrayed Monsieur Duval, father of the lovelorn leading man, Armand, with a moving gravity worth noting.

As so often happens, watching great dancing instilled in me a renewed sense of both why I dance and what ballet should do — lessons I hope will stick with me while I’m recording my audition video this week!

I walked away from The Lady of the Camélias remembering that I need to return to what might really be the first principle of free movement in ballet:

Don’t make it happen —
Let it happen.

…Which I largely succeeded in doing during barre, but not so much at center.

Class started out strong, but Tawnee (subbing for Brian, who’s dancing in various places over the next few weeks) worked us quite hard, particularly in the fondues. I acquitted myself quite nicely throughout the barre, up to and perhaps especially the fondues, but my legs were pretty cooked by the time we got to center.

That said, my développé at barre was about as good as it has ever been today — a partial compensation, I guess, for the fact that my turns were horrible, horrible, horrible! Except for the last one, which was … eh. Decent, I guess?

I’ve noticed that, when I’m tired, I resort to trying to make things happen, and I get really tense. You definitely can’t do adagio well when you’re tense. Or, well — I can’t.

So, basically, if the motto of every ballet teacher ever is, “Make it look effortless!”, at center, I more or less did the opposite … at least until we got to jumps. We only did little jumps (we ran out of time), but those always go well for me, and they use different muscles than developpé.

I should probably add that, fatigue notwithstanding, this class was fantastic — very reminiscent of Brienne’s killer classes, though with a slightly calmer energy. I think it’s a question of personality: I wouldn’t say that Tawnee’s more laid-back than Brienne, just that her intensity is more … internal? Both run a tight ship (which is incredibly important on Monday morning!) and issue solid, intelligible, helpful corrections.

Tonight I’ll be rolling out … um, basically every muscle in my body, probably … and then taking some naproxen before bed. I already gave myself a good soak in the tub, but I might take another one. I’ve been working on really nailing down port de bras, and I’m feeling it in the muscles of my upper back — the middle and lower parts of the trapezius especially, but also the little muscles whose names I forget that keep the scapulae (the shoulderblades) pulled in against your back.

Incidentally, if you’re doing port de bras without your shoulder blades sticking out, you’re probably also not letting your chest collapse inwards and your shoulders round and creep up, so that’s something worth thinking about.

In order to achieve really free, graceful port de bras, you really have to hold it all together and use the big muscles in the center of your back** to suspend your arms … which, when you’re paying attention to using them right, can get surprisingly heavy over the course of a class even if they’re not very big.

**This is why dancers tend to have beautiful backs.

Tomorrow B. and I will rehearse my piece and finalize some choreography. I haven’t even marked this dance with a second person, let alone run it, so there will probably be some things that need to be ironed out. Thursday, we’ll be able to record, and then I can finally finish my Columbia application 😀

I think it’ll be awesome dancing with B., because we have very similar personalities and we kind of feed off each-other’s energy in a really cool way. (Denis and N., B.’s husband, were cracking up about this at dessert after the ballet yesterday; B. and I kept going on and on and on and on about dance, and of course waving our hands about like madpersons (there is nothing, I’m sure, quite like being crammed into a tiny booth with two dancers madly walking through sweeping adagios with their hands), and evidently this was highly amusing.)

Erm. What else?

Flexibility-wise, the left split is back to being super easy; the right is still a little tight, but I’m at least getting down to the floor reliably again. I feel like I should probably focus quite a bit on flexibility this week, since I’ll be dancing every day through Thursday, and the weather is going to be grey, damp, and chilly — a perfect recipe for stiff muscles.

Okay. That’s it for now. I’ve got a little more laundry to fold, and then I’m going to roll my legs and go the heck to bed.

Monday Class: I Feel Somewhat More Human Now

Class went well today. I continue to be fascinated by the changes in how I perceive the tiny muscles in my hips and thighs.

Violinists (by way of example) develop more refined receptive fields and richer-than-average somatosensory cortical representation of their left hands through use. I would guess that dancers’ nervous systems adapt in a similar way, affording a more minute porprioceptive experience of what are, in fact, some pretty obscure muscles.

My mood is also significantly better. I was definitely a tad paranoid this morning, but I talked myself out of it on the bus — or, well, I gave myself a stern talking-to about it and made myself go to class anyway.

Brian gave us a barre that felt short and fairly gentle, then followed it up with interesting combinations at center and across the floor, which (as usual) I mostly did right, with the exception of occasionally firing off a turn the wrong way because thinking.

Pro tip: if say to yourself, “Crap! Which way do I turn?” the answer your brain provides almost always be wrong. At least, it will if you’re me.

Repeat to yourself (in your best Early 90s Tom Hanks voice):

There’s no thinking in ballet!

… And then just fly, little birdie.

Our final combination went:

Sauté arabesque
Pas de bourré
Demi fouette
Jump back to 2nd
Demi fouette
Brush through failli
Full fouette
Coupe to tombé
Pas de bourré
Sous sous balance
Sauté arabesque
Run away!
… And then repeat going the other way as soon as the 2nd group finishes.

It was fun; very high-energy. Set to that same lively piece from Swan Lake that I enjoyed so much last week.

There were a bunch of implied steps that we had to work out to keep everything linked.

In other news, I am getting much better at spacing, largely by dint of not having to focus so hard on just doing the steps, which used to use up a lot of mental clock cycles.

So, anyway, that’s it. My friend B. will be back this week from a conference she attended over the Thanksgiving break, and she’s going to join me in my audition video, which I suppose I could post here if it turns out all right.

It’s the opening piece from the ballet I’ll be working on for the rest of my life, “Simon Crane,” which is actually supposed to be a corps piece, but will work okay with two dancers. The video has to be between 1 and 3 minutes long, so “Shadowlands” is right out. It’s 7 minutes from start to end. (Edit: I realize that, the way I wrote this, it reads as if I mean that the entire ballet is a corps piece. While it is, in fact, corps-heavy, I just meant that the opening dance is a corps dance. Derp.)

Anyway, I need to go catch the bus.

À bientôt, mes amis!

PS: I am out of Adderall and also I am an embarrassing stereotype, so I left my coffee cup *and* my water bottle at the studio.

Danseur Ignoble: Practical Considerations

Yesterday, I signed up for the GRE, which doesn’t sound like it will be too bad.

It’s also possible that none of the programs for which I’m applying actually require it, but I might as well get it out of the way.

I’m not worried in the least about the writing and language bits; my only concern was that I’d have to do a whooooole lot of math review, but it looks like it should be very doable, provided that I don’t leave it all ’til the last minute because SQUIRREL!

As a matter of perspective, I’m much less worried about the GRE than I was about my audition piece.

Curiously, having done the audition has somehow made me feel much more confident and capable, even though the audition itself was kind of a mess due to the fact that there was absolutely no way I could be really adequately prepared under the circumstances. I don’t know, just getting up and winging it, doing it anyway, was a huge confidence-builder.

There’s something about actually doing creative work that is deeply edifying. I may not have had much of the work done in time for the audition, but the part that was done looked like … well, it looked like real dancing, if that makes any sense? And, since then, I’ve been rocking along creating and revising, which feels really exciting.

I’m learning to think of myself as an artist (not just in terms of dance, but also in terms of the visual arts), which is something I’ve always been hesitant to do. It seems somehow hubric to do so — and yet, at the same time, I’ve realized that you have to take your own work seriously, or you don’t give it the time it needs to get done.

…Or, well, that’s how it works for me.

I’ve also started organizing information about application deadlines and stuff for graduate school. Eventually, the most pressing details (application deadlines and materials needed) will go into a table or spreadsheet or something so I can just check them off as I go.

I’m not organizing cost-of-attendance data yet, because every time I look at cost-of-attendance I really rather feel like my eyes are going to explode. I know I’ll figure it out somehow, just like I figure everything else out somehow, so for now, except for looking into scholarship opportunities, I’m more or less ignoring that whole zone.

So now I’m contacting graduate schools, signing up for open-house days for their DMT programs (in this sort of devil-may-care, I’ll-figure-out-how-to-get-there-later kind of way), and so forth.

It’s a weird place to be, somehow. A couple weeks ago, I was all, I don’t know if I’m going to be ready for this; I don’t actually even know if I want to do this. A lot of that stemmed from being persistently sick for a rather longish period, though: eventually, I’ll write about what that does to me emotionally, but I can’t figure out yet how to put it into words.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I woke up, remembered what I want to do and why, and felt ready to get started … so yesterday, I did.

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this happened within a week after getting back to class.

The structure that ballet provides is so essential to my life. While I actually do very much like being a homemaker, I seem to do best when I have a schedule imposed upon me from the outside. It forces me to organize my time in a way that’s really quite difficult for me to do otherwise.

Moreover, going to class is, for me, a signal that things are normal; that life is moving along in its usual rhythm. Not going to class is a signal that Something Is Very Wrong (usually, that either my physical or emotional health has imploded).

That said, I didn’t take Wednesday class yesterday because I don’t quite yet feel like my respiratory system is up to the demands of Brienne’s class. Lingering cough is lingering.

That said, I forgot that Margie now teaches a Wednesday morning class which I could have taken instead. Derp.

I’m hoping to be back up to speed next week, but if I’m not, I’ll do Margie’s class on Wednesday morning (I’m trying to avoid doing evening classes except on rare occasions, since this time of year it means getting home at 10 PM, which is problematic for a number of reasons).

I wrote in yesterday’s post about the relative costs of therapy and ballet as part of my defense of the cost of dancing — not to say that ballet should replace therapy, but it augments therapy rather beautifully. For me, the sense of structure and, I suppose, of belonging are an enormous part of that.

Dancing is part of what makes my life whole. For practical reasons as well as purely impractical ones, it’s terribly nice to be dancing again at last.

Honors Convocation

My chemistry prof from a couple of semesters back, Dr.  Wainge, won the Distinguished Professor award.

In his beautiful speech (which, like everything else, was really hard to understand because of echo from the speakers), he recounted how after finishing his BS degree he had to wait four years, teaching science in high school, before he could start his PhD program in Physical Chemistry …  because, at the time, in Cameroon, there was no such program.

I don’t know if that’s what made him such a great Chem teacher (you guys, I got an A+ in his class with no prior chemistry classes and I did not burn down the Physical Sciences building during lab!).  It probably helps, at very least.

Anyway, as he wound to a close he told us, mid-analogy: “… And when you see a detour, be patient and follow it, because it may be the safest way to get where you are going  — or you might even find an even better destination than the one you had in mind.”

So yeah, that.   And everything else he said.

Also, when I got up to collect my honor cord, I got a totally unexpected whoop from someone out there in the audience on the opposite side of the auditorium from my family.   So, pretty cool stuff, and many thanks to whoever that was.   If you’re reading this, please know that it was a giant ego boost!  ^—^

That’s it for now.   Lovely weekend with the family, great roving packs of Dawsons getting along beautifully with Mom and Ray.  Too much awesome food because, well, Louisville.

Commencement tomorrow: the great Reading of All the Names.

And then?

Who knows.   But wherever we go, we’ll go there dancing.


Just a quick hallo.

Class Friday morning was lovely, though for some reason (probably a bicycular one), my right hamstring was way tight (by my standards, anyway).  On the way home, though, I retrieved my bike from the spot near Family Dollar where I’d locked it, rolled for maybe ten minutes, then went down so hard and fast that I was reflexively getting back up before I really figured out I’d crashed (aside: You can pick out horse people by how fast we pop back onto our feet after a bike crash, and the fact that we tend to instinctively keep one hand on the “reins” — I haven’t had a bike bolt on me yet :D).

This particular spill happened so fast that my tuck-and-roll reflex was useless …  though, the fact that the bike went over flat on its left side didn’t help, either.  You guys, mountain bikes may not be as fast as road bikes in general, but they sure do fall just as fast.

At the time, the crash seemed inexplicable, which is to say I couldn’t remember how it happened, which really freaked me out for much of the day — though, to be fair, I had a mild concussion, which can do weird things to all the feels.  I at least had the presence of mind to call Denis instead of trying to ride home.  Which is good, because today I went out to check on the bike and realized that the rear tire was pancake flat.   I suspect that’s actually what caused the crash — I must have picked up a puncture and rolled the tire.   I haven’t yet had it off the rim to see what flattened it, though.

Anyway, I’m mostly fine, if a bit bruised here and there.  My helmet died an honorable death protecting my skull (and also keeping me face road-rash free).   I have a replacement en route.  I was able to mow the lawn today; should be fine to dance tomorrow.

So this is all by way of explaining this weekend’s radio silence.   Saturday, we went to the final Met Live in HD broadcast for the season; today, we just relaxed at home.

I  should point out that Denis was wonderful all day on Friday: he came and picked me up right away, and then he kept me comfy and hydrated and stuff so I could vegetate on the couch and let my brain rest (and stop crying eventually — oy vey, did this ever kick off the mother of all crying jags, which should’ve been my first clue that it rattled my brain; tears are basically never my first response to physical danger, crisis, or harm).  He bought sundae cones for me on the way home.  He took me out for dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook.  He brought me blankets because I said I was cold, though really I just wanted to hide.

So it turns out that it can actually be kind of nice to let someone else take care of you once in a while.

So that was nice.

Anyway, tomorrow is the official Last Day of Class.  The last hurdle between me and my bachelor’s of science (I kid you not, autocorrupt suggested “seive,” which is roughly how my brain feels at the end of any given semester) degree in Psychology is my final paper in Buddhism, which is adjust written, bar any minor changes.

Soooooooo, yeah.  It looks like I’m doing this graduation thing for reals.

That’s it for now.   More soon, probably with amusing pix of my multi-colored knee.

Belated Essentials Class Notes; Weight Bias Online Open Course on Canvas

I don’t think I posted notes the last time I went to class, back before Spring Break and the Week of the Plague (we were both sick last week; fortunately, I was spared the fate of a follow-on bronchitis, unlike Denis). It was lovely, though I was not entirely at my best. There was a new guy, who we’ll call T. It was his third class, and he was doing quite well, so I hope he’ll stick around, and that I’ll see him in class on Friday morning this week.

Last night, we had another new dancer in Margie’s class. Margie asked me to lead her barre, and I subsequently realized I need to remember to keep a hand on the barre when leading a totally new student. In Margie’s class, I often work hands-free, in order to refine balance and stuff. It never occurred to me that a really new dancer might not realize that it’s okay to keep a hand on the barre, but that’s exactly what happened.

My balance was a little off, since I have some lingering fluid-in-the-ears stuff going on, but other than that I did well. Because I hadn’t been in class the prior week, I was also able to see myself with fresh eyes; I realized that my body has changed profoundly in the year I’ve been back in the studio.

My thigh muscles are leaner than I ever expected them to become, which is surprising (my calves are still huge, but no longer “out of spec” with regard to the classical-ballet mold). I’ve regained the flexibility I lost while alternating between sitting at a desk and training for bike races. My arms have learned how to be expressive and graceful.

For me, Margie’s class is now all about refinement and musicality. It’s actually invaluable in that regard.

Once school is out, I plan to keep Margie’s class in the Friday morning slot in my class rotation. Monday and Wednesday mornings, I’ll be doing Intermediate class, and Saturday morning I’ll be doing Beginner class (I’m not quite confident enough to try flailing my way through the Saturday-morning Advanced class yet!).

I will probably skip Wednesday evening class this week because I’m working on my final paper for my Buddhism class — as I said to Denis, I’ve reached “the boring part,” during which I’m basically just putting in all the references I didn’t enter as I wrote the paper because I was writing it on my tablet and tabbing back and forth was a PITA. That falls right into the range of work that is the most challenging for someone with my particular flavor of ADHD, so I’m giving myself time and room to work on it.

Of course, since I know I need to do it and I know it’s boring and I know it’s hard, my brain is also busily suggesting a million other things that I also need, with various levels of urgency, to do. Like, “Hey! It’ll only take a few minutes to complete the updates you need to do for the PorchLight Express Project! Plus, you need to work on that mini-article for Jack Rabbit Speaks! And you still need to take a picture of the trainer you’re offering up for the raffle for CabalAid! If you do those, you’ll feel productive, and that will help you with your paper!”

Well played, ADHD. I see what you’re trying to do, here. (But maybe I’ll do a couple of those things anyway, because I am someone who feeds on the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing things.)

In other news, I’m taking a free, 5-week online course offered by Dalhouse University on Canvas Network called “Behind the Scenes: Addressing weight bias and stigma in obesity.”

It looks really cool, and I’m very heartened by the fact that one of the readings for this, our first class week, is a paper from one of my favorite researchers. Dr. Rebecca M. Puhl is a prolific researcher in the field whose work kept popping up as I reviewed the literature upon which I would found my Senior Seminar project; I think I wound up citing four or five papers on which she was either a lead or one of two lead investigators.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the course, it’s not too late to sign up (and you can create a Canvas account for free)! I wish I’d thought to post a link earlier. It really looks like it’s going to be a great class.

Here’s a link, if you’re interested in checking out the course:

Those of you working in the health-care professions may even be able to gain Continuing Education or Professional Development units. A certificate of Completion costs $50 Canadian and provides 15 PD units.

If you don’t have time to take the class but would like to follow along with the participants, we’ll be using hashtag #weighbiasaware on Twitter.

Speaking of Professional Development and Continuing Education, I have some long-term plan updates that I’ll be posting in a bit. Nothing particularly drastic, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic about my road forward now thanks to a chat with Dr. Morgan yesterday morning.

That’s it for now. Keep the leather side down, and don’t forget to ride your bike!

Danseur Ignoble: How Will I Survive??!!!!111oneoneoneoone

(Okay, yes, I’m making fun of my own internal histrionics, but seriously.)

Today I discovered that (perhaps unsurprisingly, given that The Mother Ship — AKA IU Bloomington, AKA IU Prime — has an excellent ballet program) we not only have access to an extensive library of books about ballet, but that most of them are available online, for free … as long as you’re an IU student.

Needless to say, I wish I’d thought to look earlier. Because, seriously. SO MANY BOOKS. SO LITTLE TIME. Where do I even begin?

I will be the first to admit that I’m both completely stoked about graduating and also kind of, like, “Yeah, but, seriously … not be a student for, like, a year and a half? HOW???? HOW WILL I LIVE WITHOUT ACCESS TO ENDLESS SUPPLIES OF PEER-REVIEWED DATA AND FREE SOFTWARE AND ZILLIONS OF BALLET BOOKS AT MY FINGERTIPS?!”

And now this.

You guys, I just don’t think I’m gonna make it.

Go on without me.

I’ll be fine.


In related news:

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